Lifetime of Simpsons

S23 E04 – Replaceable You

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Well, yesterday wasn’t great. And today’s not really going to be either. Trust me, things are going to pick up tomorrow, and hopefully it’ll continue for the rest of the season, but today we’ve got another episode that just bounces right off of me. Which is weird, since it’s about an army of robot seals attacking the elderly. That should be more fun than what we got.

The episode starts off with Bart sitting around and watching an Itchy and Scratchy episode that parodies Frankenstein, with Itchy creating a series of Scratchy’s so he can kill them. But afterward Lisa shows up and begins taunting Bart with a model of the Earth. Apparently the Elementary School is about to have a big science fair, and Lisa has spent the last couple of weeks making a bummer of a presentation about how an asteroid is going to crashing into Springfield and destroy it in the future.

However, this also makes Bart realize that he’s unprepared for the science fair, and it’s time for him to get to work. So Bart gets to work and starts working on a cootie shot, hoping to do some good work and save some lives. This is ruined though when Lisa shows up again and points out that he’s already done a preventative cootie patch. So, he’s crushed again and still needs to come up with something to do. And since he doesn’t have any ideas, he heads out to find someone to help him. Luckily, Bart finds Martin receiving a massive wedgie while hanging from a tree, and decides to save him in exchange for science help. Martin agrees.

But before we look into this, it’s time to set up the baffling B-Plot. And it all begins with Homer heading into work at the Nuclear Plant, only to find that there’s a strange, super tall, woman named Roz in his office. Turns out Roz is his new assistant, and she’s been tasked with learning from Homer. So Homer takes Roz all around the Plant, teaching her the ins and outs while telling her to always butter up Mr. Burns. She in turn begins to butter up Homer as much as possible.

That’s enough of that for a while though, so let’s check back in on Bart and Martin’s science fair project. Things aren’t going well, since Bart is in favor of some sort of Homer humiliating machine, which Martin keeps shooting down. But then Bart comes up with a solid idea. A robotic pet. So the two get to brainstorming and end up coming up with the idea of a robotic baby seal, after tearing through countless robotics text books. There’s just one problem. It’s a tad evil. But that turns out to be a wiring flaw, and they’re able to turn it into a loveable little toy.

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The science fair then arrives, and Bart and Martin proudly demonstrate their adorable little seal robot. And everyone loves it. Hell, they even get first prize, which really makes Lisa mad since she went through all the work to make her bummer of a presentation. But Bart wins! And the family then immediately go to the Retirement Castle to show Grandpa the award. But he doesn’t care about that. What he cares about is the seal. In fact, everyone at the Retirement Castle loves the seal.

While that simmers though it’s time to jump back over to Homer’s storyline. Because things are going great with Roz. She’s doing all of Homer’s work, and he’s free to slack off even more than normal. Hell, he’s even able to ditch work one day to watch some terrible Paul Blart movie with Barney. However, this turns out to be a bad call, because when Homer gets back to work he finds Mr. Burns waiting for him.

And it’s not good news. Homer has been caught ditching work, and Burns has decided to demote him, giving Roz his old job. So, this is obviously suspicious, and Homer decides that Roz has betrayed him, and ratted him out. This is then made worse when Roz shows up at Moe’s that night to steal Homer’s friends and get them on her side. Which begins Roz’s reign of terror, because when she gets power she starts treating Homer as poorly as possible, and starts treating Homer like garbage.

But back in the main plot, things are really starting to ramp up. Because one day while Bart and Martin are at school they’re approached by Grandpa and several other old folks. They’re there to ask them for more of those seals, so that every person at the Retirement Castle can have one of their own. They agree and end up providing ever single old folk at the Castle their own seal. And they love them. The seals make them all super happy, and end up cheering their existence up immensely.

And this happiness gets noticed by people. Unfortunately, not good people. Apparently Springfield has a cabal of shadowy people who profit off the sadness and deaths of the elderly, and these seals are making old people happier, and live longer. Which they can’t abide. So they decide they have no choice but to ruin these seals. Luckily they find out that the robo-seals have a defect where they become violent, and get to work reprogramming the seals.

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But before we get to the seal massacre let’s finish off that Homer plot. Because things are getting weird. He’s furious all the time, and he can’t stand Roz. So mad that he decides to talk to Flanders about it one day when they’re taking the trash out. And, as luck would have it, Ned actually knows Roz. And he knows a secret about her. Apparently a few years ago Ned attended some dorky church function with Roz, and knows that she has a serious phobia about people touching her, which causes her to fly into a rage.

So, now that Homer has that little tidbit of information, he begins plotting the downfall of Roz. And Homer has a great opportunity to destroy Roz, because it turns out that she’s getting some sort of employee of the millennium award at work. So when Roz gets the award from Mr. Burns Homer begins riling up the crowd, insisting that Burns hug Roz. Burns is a little confused, but goes along with it, causing Roz to have a serious freak-out. She ends up punching Burns, thus getting herself fired. Good work Homer.

Anyway, one of those seals killed Mrs. Glick. Wait, what? Yeah, that happened! Bart sees a news report about how one of the seals went crazy and apparently killed Mrs. Glick, causing the town to freak out about them. So, all of the seals have been taken away from the elderly, and kept in the police station so that they can’t harm anyone again. But Bart and Martin know that something is up, they just need to fix their product.

So Bart and Martin go find Professor Frink, and ask him to help out. Frink agrees, and together with Homer’s college roommates the crew begin remotely reprogramming the seals, making them go back to their old, cuddly selves. They then send out a signal, bringing the seals back to normal, and lets them escape prison. Chief Wiggum just lets them leave too, since they’re so damned cute. The seals then march their way back to the Retirement Castle, and continue making the old folks’ lives better.

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This episode is very strange. There’s something about it that just doesn’t do much for me, and I’m kind of struggling figuring it out. I certainly am not a fan of the Homer B-plot, because it just doesn’t feel like anything special, and seems to be a plot that we’ve all seen before. Plus, having Roz be an unsympathetic monster makes it harder for anything interesting to come from the plot anyway. But there’s something about the main, seal plot that just rubs me the wrong way. I like the idea that Bart accidentally created something that makes the old folks of Springfield happy, but I think where it loses me is when the weird cabal gets introduced. Because they’re barely explained, don’t really come back, and cause the random death of Mrs. Glick. Things ramped up to a ridiculous degree, and then just ended as if they didn’t introduce a group of evil business owners who want to kill old people. It’s just strange. But don’t worry, things will get better tomorrow.

Take Away: It’s always nice to find ways to help the elderly live nicer lives.

 

“Replaceable You” was written by Stephanie Gillis and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2011.

 

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